business recognizes the importance of “excellent transit”

April 8th, 2014

Aviva Canada, one of Canada’s largest general insurers, recently made the exciting announcement that they have chosen downtown Markham for their new Canadian headquarters.

This development shows how York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, of which vivaNext is a key part, is already resulting in important economic development benefits for our region. It’s more proof that long term, we’re all going to benefit from a visionary planning framework that will channel new jobs, housing and shopping to the newly urbanized downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

And, central to the Centres and Corridors strategy is the vivaNext rapid transit system, which will make it easy for employees and residents to travel conveniently and make transit connections across York Region.   Employers need to attract workers, and one of the things that employees need is access to transit to provide options for the daily commute.

Municipalities that are able to offer easy access to great transit have an important competitive advantage when employers are deciding where to open new offices.  And new offices, and the jobs and prosperity they bring a community, help improve the standard of living for everyone.

As Aviva’s President and CEO company said in their news release, one of the reasons the downtown Markham location was chosen, in addition to all its “incredible amenities”, was that it offers employees access to “excellent transit”.

With the combined policies from all three levels of government – provincial, Regional and local – we’re going to be able to maximize the economic development potential of our new downtowns. Gradually, more and more new developments are going to want to come to these emerging neighbourhoods, bringing with them more jobs and more choices in housing, shopping and entertainment.  And we’re excited that, companies have access to “excellent transit” and recognize it as a key selling point.

spring has arrived on davis drive

April 2nd, 2014

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s very excited to see the long harsh winter [or “polar vortex” as the media described it] come to an end. The bone-chilling temperatures were all too frequent this winter and I’ve almost forgot what weather in the positive double digits feel like, but we are excited to see the sunshine!

While it may not feel like spring has completely sprung yet, the extra daylight and warmer temperatures are a welcoming addition to each day.  We are embracing this nicer weather at vivaNext and are gearing up for a very busy construction season on Davis Drive.

This year the transformation will continue to take shape with significant work set to get underway. Road widening and base layer paving will be a major focus this year. You’ll also see finished boulevards in sections. Planters with interlocking paving stones and concrete sidewalks will be installed in these areas.

For larger operations, some work is required deep underground. This year multiple closures on side streets that intersect Davis will be required for several different operations. The most up-to-date details on all the road closures off Davis Drive are available at vivanext.com.

It’s also necessary at times to close or relocate bus stops and shelters so construction crews can gain access to work sites and to ensure the public is kept safe during construction. To find out if a bus stop has been moved to a temporary location please watch for signs that will direct you to the closest open bus stop. There’s a lot going on out there so we’ve made a short video to assist you with what to look for when a bus stop has been relocated.

Updates about all of this work will be made available as they happen. If you have questions or concerns please contact your Community Liaison and sign up for construction updates to get the latest construction information at vivanext.com.

 

earth hour 2014 – celebrating our commitment to the planet

March 28th, 2014

Nelson Mandela – “Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet”

Earth Hour is an annual global event that is held on the last Saturday of each March to raise awareness of climate change, and to encourage each of us to make choices that will lessen our impact on the environment. This remarkable initiative first began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 with 2.2 million Sydneysiders [A native or inhabitant of Sydney, Australia] and 2,100 businesses taking part. To date it has grown to over 6950 cities and 152 countries worldwide.  In 2012 Vancouver was recognized as the first Global Earth Hour Capital. The City of Vancouver has set green targets of being a global leader on climate-smart urban development. Vancouver aims to have all newly constructed buildings be carbon neutral in their operations by 2020.

In reflecting on the true meaning of Earth Hour it raises the question – why wait until March 29 at 8:30pm to make a difference in saving energy or working to reduce climate change? Why not make small changes throughout the year? Small changes like carpooling or taking public transit will help reduce vehicle emissions and pollution. We are seeing these everyday changes right here in York Region with a 38% increase in ridership and over 22.7 million riders on YRT\Viva since 2005.  With the section of the rapidway that is open on Highway 7, you can hop aboard a Viva bus and cut your commute time by up to 40% during the rush hour commute.

Once vivaNext rapidway construction is completed, the sustainable transformation of this urban corridor will support growth, and reduce congestion to help make York Region an even more inviting place to live, work, shop and play. These benefits extend well beyond York Region. For example, the rapidways will also play an important role in a seamless transit system across the GTHA, helping to reduce traffic congestion, increase productivity and provide sustainable alternatives to car use, which help reduce our environmental impacts.

If we all tried, even for one day, to reduce our environmental footprint it would be a symbolic demonstration of our commitment to reducing climate change.  Don’t forget to power down this Earth Hour, our planet will thank you.

 

transit and jobs work together

March 25th, 2014

Businesses are making big news in Vaughan recently. Last week, an article titled Vaughan breaks through 10,000-businesses ceiling was posted, highlighting Vaughan’s successful business expansion and employment growth. So you’re thinking… “That’s great for Vaughan, but what does it have to do with vivaNext?” Well let me explain by taking a closer look at the relationship between transit and economic development.

We know that in York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, municipalities including Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan are targeted to have new, urban “downtowns.” They will be vibrant, higher density, attractive destinations with a full range of amenities so that people can live, work, shop and play in the same community. Not only does that sound like a perfect place to live, but as a business owner, it also sounds like the ideal location for your business.  And, having new jobs in our community provides options and helps reduce employee travel times to work.

Next we have to think about how people will get there. In high density urban environments, traffic congestion is an on-going issue, and with a wide range of demographics living in the same neighbourhoods, transit is the key link that connects us to where we need to go. That’s where transit comes in. VivaNext is building transportation “corridors” that will make it easier for people to get around the region. The vivaNext rapidways will run along the major corridors such as Davis Drive and Highway 7, linking to the centres with safe and efficient travel options for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

For example, in Vaughan the Highway 7 West rapidway will be situated in the future Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] development area – the City’s new emerging urban downtown centre.  In the VMC, mixed-use transit-oriented development is proposed along a tree-lined main street, and includes businesses, residences, entertainment and cultural facilities, as well as pedestrian shopping areas. It will be one of the largest and most ambitious development projects in the area’s history and connect to a variety of other transit services, including the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE].

Construction of the TYSSE is currently underway and is scheduled to be in service in 2016. The first phase of rapidway construction along Highway 7 is scheduled to be open at the same time, so that you can travel seamlessly from A to B.

This new transportation hub will not only include rapid transit options, it also includes convenient passenger pick-up and drop-off and an inter-regional bus terminal, 7. Residents, employees, employers and visitors alike will enjoy the mixed-use, transit-oriented development offered in the VMC area, as it becomes a destination to work, shop or relax, and getting there will be easy whether you walk or ride transit.

spring is in the air

March 20th, 2014

John Steinbeck – “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Such words have never been truer than this past winter.  The Greater Toronto Area recorded the coldest winter in 20 years; there have been at least 10 days of temperature that dipped below -20 C, which hasn’t happened in seven years and this has been the longest winter on record in over 100 years! With the official arrival of spring, vivaNext is preparing to ramp up our construction and road work.

Last year, we had some great milestones with the opening of 3.9 kilometres of rapidway on Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year, with the tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] station. Ongoing utility relocation on Highway 7 West, as well as CN Bridge work.  On Davis Drive, nearly all retaining walls have been constructed, the eastern creek culvert has been replaced and extended, and the majority of hydro poles have been relocated. Road widening and base-layer paving has started, while reconstruction of Keith Bridge and the extension of the western creek bridge on the north side continue.

Building on the progress and advancing the BRT project, we’ll continue to relocate utilities, construct retaining walls, widen roads and pave along the different corridors, not to mention finishing the new viva stations on Highway 7 in Markham.  With the longer days and bright sunshine, comes a lot more activity in the construction zones so please drive carefully and be alert to workers in the area. We know construction can be daunting and we thank you for your patience and understanding. Please drive with care and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely.

To find out what is happening this spring, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at vivanext.com to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.

 

taking care near our urban watercourses

March 5th, 2014

If you’ve been at the corner of Jane Street and Highway 7 in Vaughan recently, you’ll have seen the work underway to build a 10 metre long retaining wall near where the Black Creek flows through a large culvert under the roadway.

We’re building the retaining wall to support the newly widened roadway. Ensuring that our project does not negatively affect any of the watercourses adjacent to or crossing our rapidway segments is a top priority for vivaNext, and we have made commitments through the Environmental Assessment phase of the project for how we will carry out that work to ensure there are no harmful effects.  In keeping with this commitment, we need to have the major work on the retaining wall finished this spring before April 1, completing the in-water work before the closing of the pre-established work window.

This “work window” is set by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources, and is set out in timing guidelines that are applied to construction projects near or in watercourses that are home to any species of fish.  These timing guidelines are intended to protect fish from any impact from construction work being done in or around water, during the critical life stages for fish including spawning migrations, egg incubation and fry emergence.

Provincial guidelines are organized by region as well as by fish species within those regions.  Fish can be divided into those that spawn in cold water (i.e. in the spring) and those that spawn in warm water (i.e. in the fall), with the species in the Black Creek being in the cold-water group.  For that reason, the construction permits require that any work we do in or near the Black Creek be done outside of the period from April 1 to June 30, to ensure that the project doesn’t interfere with their spawning.

Once the work window closes April 1, we will not do any work in or around the water until the beginning of July.  So we go to great lengths to ensure the work on the Black Creek retaining wall is finished by the end of March, and that we won’t need to do any other activities involving in-water work until the summer.

Our commitment to ensuring our work has no adverse effects on the environment goes well beyond avoiding any in-water work at sensitive times.  On all our segments, we work closely with the local conservation authorities, who approve the final designs before we get their permission to work.  Our mutual goal is to ensure the project, at a minimum, avoids any harmful impacts, and in many cases actively enhances the natural environment. We also use various construction strategies to mitigate any potential impacts while we’re working, such as installing cofferdams from sheet piles or sand bags around our work zones within watercourses.   By using these methods, we’re able to work “in-the-dry”, thereby avoiding any risks to the watercourse and its fish, even if the in-water work window has closed.

We’re happy to know that the vivaNext project is going to ultimately enhance our shared environment for people and the other creatures that live in York.  So taking great care as we work near our creeks and rivers is just one example of how we’re committed to protecting and enhancing our natural surroundings, even in a fully-urbanized area like Highway 7 and Jane Street.

Please remember as the temperature heats up during spring thaw, water ways and creeks can been extremely dangerous, remember to keep a safe distance.

 

come visit us at the markham spring home show!

February 27th, 2014

Despite the freezing temperature and winters’ refusal to leave, spring is just around the corner and the birds are starting to chirp in celebration. With spring thoughts in mind, we often think about home projects or renovations. If you’re dreaming of a fresh look for any part of your home, then there’s no better place for you to go than your local home show where anything and everything you’ll need is in one place.  It is wonderful to shop local and support our local businesses and merchants.

The vivaNext team has a booth at the home show because warmer weather also brings with it busy construction schedules on the Regional roads and we want to share with you what is going on. So, if you’re at the Markham Spring Home Show this weekend, stop by and visit. We’ll tell you what’s new on our projects in Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill. Like renovating your home, the construction projects vivaNext has underway will bring long-term benefits. Our construction projects are bringing change to York Region in the form of rapidways — dedicated lanes for viva vehicles.  We hope you have checked out the first section on Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham, now open. Rapidways make it faster and easier to travel on viva throughout York Region with up to 40% time savings, and help set the stage for great destinations to live, work, shop and play.

The Markham Spring Home Show is host to over 100 vendors. Meet with renovation or home decor experts, take part in a workshop or two, or enjoy some lively entertainment. And, don’t forget to visit the vivaNext team at our booth too.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Markham Spring Home Show at the Markham Fair Grounds – 10801 McCowan Road, [McCowan/Elgin Mills], Markham [click on map for driving directions]

Friday February 28, 2014 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Saturday March 1, 2014 10 am to 6 pm
Sunday March 2, 2014 11 am to 5 pm

 

communication is key

February 20th, 2014

VivaNext is committed to providing timely and informative updates on all our construction projects. We have a small team of communicators who work behind the scenes to ensure you get the practical information you need. We strive to keep everyone up-to-date through various print and electronic communication vehicles.

Social media is an important tool that we use to provide information to our vivaNext users/followers. It allows for instant communications and easy access to all of the project news and updates.  It also provides the opportunity to have an engaged conversation in “real-time”. We summarized a number of our communication initiatives and social media channels in a short video for you to see just how dedicated we are to keeping you informed throughout construction.

In this video, you’ll also see a glimpse of the Davis Drive rapidway construction and the progress underway in the Town of Newmarket. While we capture as much as we can on video, it doesn’t always do the work justice. Why not check for yourself and stop by Davis Drive today to see the transformation unfolding and while you’re there Shop Davis to support your local retailers during construction.

Just as we keep the communication flowing to you, we also appreciate your interaction with us. Asking questions, sharing your thoughts, photos and comments, and posting on our social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter not only promotes participation, it also provides us with feedback. We also encourage you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

We really enjoy hearing from you and appreciate your input. Let’s continue to keep the channels open and the communications flowing.

 

building up the centres and corridors

February 13th, 2014

The most obvious benefit that vivaNext will provide, and one that is already taking shape on Highway 7, is the convenient rapid transit system that we’re constructing across York Region.  But as I’ve described in many previous posts, vivaNext is much more than a transit project; it’s also a key part of the long-term strategy being used by York Region to help our Region respond to and manage growth.  Central to that strategy is the overall vision of Centres and Corridors, which will help concentrate future growth in higher-density, mixed use developments clustered in four new urban nodes, one each in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.  Here’s a summary of how this strategy will transform our Region and help it manage growth.

Population increase is happening across the Region, and brings many advantages.  More people means the Region can attract and support new choices in housing, employment, shopping, entertainment, dining and recreation. But as the Region grows, more people also means more traffic, more congestion, and more crowding.  So the strategy that York Region has developed, in collaboration with both the Province and the local municipalities, is to channel much of that growth into newly developed communities clustered in new urban centres along Highway 7 and in Newmarket.  With this strategy, existing neighbourhoods will be protected, along with the way of life that attracted many people to the Region in the first place.

The new communities in the Regional Centres will be mixed use, meaning they will offer residential, employment and recreational options – including a proportion of affordable housing choices. Once these new downtowns are fully established, people will be able to work, live and play without needing to get in a car, enjoying choices for housing, jobs, shopping and dining, all within walking distance.

Linking these emerging downtowns will be major transportation corridors along Highway 7, Yonge Street and Davis Drive, featuring our new vivaNext bus rapid transit rapidways and the Spadina subway extension (and once funding is secured, the Yonge Subway extension).  With convenient access between these new urban neighbourhoods and our expanding rapid transit network, people will be able to travel across the Region and into the rest of the GTA without needing a car, making the Centres an attractive option for people looking for an urban lifestyle.

Obviously, completing York Region’s new downtowns isn’t going to happen overnight, but new developments are already transforming the look and feel along Highway 7, up Yonge Street and across Davis Drive.  And as these new urban areas take shape, we’re working hard to get the transit part of the equation built, one rapidway station at a time – to provide a convenient, fast way for everyone in York Region to get around using transit.

 

what’s next for yonge?

February 11th, 2014

 

Did you know that the next phase of rapid transit is coming to Yonge Street? As part of our overall plan to reduce traffic congestion throughout York Region, vivaNext will be building rapidways on one of Canada’s most famous streets, providing fast, reliable, convenient transit and accommodating new intensified development in Richmond Hill and Newmarket.

The Yonge Street rapidway project includes attractive landscaping, wider sidewalks and bike lanes, setting the stage for pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use development and enhancing the area as an attractive destination for residents, businesses and visitors to live, work and visit.

For those of you who joined us at our public meetings in November, you would have seen preliminary project plans and conceptual drawings of the future Yonge Street rapidways.  Here is a brief re-cap of what the plans are:

In Richmond Hill - Yonge Street will be widened to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes for viva buses in the centre of the road and seven new vivastations. In total the rapidway will extend 6.5 kilometres from Highway 7 to 19th Avenue/Gamble Road. In the heritage area north of Major Mackenzie Drive, viva will continue to drive in mixed traffic as it does today.

In Newmarket – dedicated bus rapid transit lanes will run along 2.4 kilometres of Yonge Street from just south of Mulock Drive to meet up with the vivaNext rapidways already under construction along Davis Drive. The Yonge Street rapidway will be home to three new vivastations at Mulock Drive, Eagle Street and Davis Drive.

While crews are out on site conducting advanced studies and property surveys along this corridor to help prepare for construction, the next step for this project is to award the Design-Build Contract. From there we will be busy working with the contractor to create construction plans, complete preliminary engineering studies, refine the design and establish timelines for various phases of construction for this project. The contract is expected to be awarded soon, so stay tuned for details.